What’s in the House, Senate bills overhauling Jan. 6 count

WASHINGTON (AP) — The central idea behind House and Senate bills to reform an arcane federal election law is simple: Congress should not decide presidential elections.

The bills are a direct response to the Jan. 6 insurrection and former President Donald Trump’s efforts to find a way around the Electoral Count Act, a 19th century law that governs, along with the U.S. Constitution, how states and Congress certify electors and declare presidential election winners. The House passed its version of the legislation on Wednesday, and a Senate committee will consider its bipartisan bill next week.

While the House bill is more expansive, the two bills would make similar changes, all aimed at ensuring that the popular vote from each state is protected from manipulation by bad actors or partisans who want to overturn the will of the voters.

House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a lead sponsor of the House bill, says people who wanted to overturn the 2020 election took advantage of ambiguous language “to have Congress play a role that they really aren’t supposed to play.”

Supporters in both chambers — Democrats and some Republicans — want to pass an overhaul before the start of the next Congress and ahead of the 2024 presidential campaign cycle, as Trump has signaled that he might run again. Ten GOP senators have backed the legislation, likely giving Democrats the votes they need to break a filibuster and pass their electoral bill in the 50-50 Senate.